Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending

This is a movie that keeps getting better on repeated viewings. With only two hours to craft a new universe that's crammed with more detail than any of their previous works, the Wachowskis by necessity move the story—populated with a huge cast of characters—along quickly and expect you to keep up. I couldn't during the first time around, which caused me to give up trying to follow what was happening, leading to disappointment and boredom. But guess what? I read what the burgeoning online fandom had to say and gave Jupiter Ascending another chance. My appreciation grew (and continues to grow) as the densely-layered film became clearer.

The Wachowskis refuse succumbing to cynicism and instead embrace earnestness (a big no-no with today's audiences), which can be off-putting to people who only enjoy space operas on an ironic or deeply sarcastic level, à la Guardians of the Galaxy. Lilly and Lana balance the tone of their Secret Princess narrative between high drama and intentional ridiculousness. They're not expecting you to take their crazy ideas (and there are a lot of them) seriously, but this isn't camp, nor is it self-aware winking at the camera. It's a modern fairy tale... IN SPACE!

There's so much to talk about and frankly I don't want to compress everything I can think of at the moment into one review. Expect more to come later. But for now, here are the most immediate observations I have:

• Bless the Wachowskis for keeping Channing Tatum shirtless for about twenty minutes of screen time, and for no particular reason other than eye candy. I think he's attractive as a half-wolf/angel hybrid, okay?

• It blows my mind that Michael Giacchino composed his entire score without having seen a second of footage; that's how well it fits the action. My favorite cue has to be the gradually building, choral-enhanced urgency that explodes into an orgasmic triumph during the scenes where Caine Wise defies the odds to save Jupiter.

• Jupiter Jones has plenty of agency and fuck you for thinking otherwise. She makes her own decisions which drive the plot, including the most important one of all: choosing to save the Earth over her life and the lives of her family. "Badass Fighter Chick" à la Furiosa isn't the only way to write a good female character. In this case, it's Jupiter's empathy and choosing not to use violence (unless Eddie Redmayne is trying to kill her, and even then, she stops short of killing him) that makes her strong. Caine is her Toto and all she wants is to go home again. He's subservient to and respectful of Her Majesty and finally belongs to a pack (of two).

• She's also the only princess I know of who attracts bees instead of forest animals like birds and rabbits.

• Channing Tatum wears space roller blades and fights a flying dinosaur while everything around them explodes I mean c'mon that shit is bangin'.

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